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Lizzy Banks out with pericarditis after COVID-19

Lizzy Banks (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) during Dwars door Vlaanderen
Lizzy Banks (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) during Dwars door Vlaanderen (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Lizzy Banks (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) revealed on her Instagram page that she has been struggling with pericarditis as a side-effect of a COVID-19 infection this spring. The 31-year-old has not raced since Dwars door Vlaanderen and expects to be out for another two to four weeks.

"Lots of you have been asking when I'll be racing which is an excellent question which I'd also like the answer to," Banks wrote. "Been on total standstill since after Dwars Door Vlaanderen when difficulty breathing and worsening chest pain led to a diagnosis of pericarditis."

Pericarditis, an inflammation of the heart lining, is a rare side-effect of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and, more rarely, of the mRNA vaccination against it.

"An MRI of my heart last week showed I still have a small (thankfully) pericardial effusion meaning there's fluid around my heart and there's also a tiny bit of fluid on my lungs too so there had obviously been some inflammation there as well," Banks wrote.

"Having already been confined to the sofa for a month with anti-inflammatories being my best friends, this news was a bit of a blow to say the least. At least 2-4 more weeks of doing as little as I can has been prescribed and just have to hope by then it's all cleared up."

A COVID-19 infection is also suspected to be behind Sonny Colbrelli's collapse at Volta a Catalunya, where a cardiac arrhythmia required medics to re-start his heart rhythm with defibrillators. The Italian has yet to resume competition after having a subcutaneous defibrillator surgically implanted.

Cardiac problems were a concern for athletes since the first reports of myocarditis in 2020, and the UCI implemented COVID-19 protocols that recommended riders to have their heart function examined post-infection. Since vaccinations have been widely available, those fears had eased until Colbrelli's almost worst-case scenario.

Banks expressed her disappointment for having to miss the early season after only two days of racing with her new team.

"It's all a bit unbelievable really after working so hard to get myself in great shape in February but Covid is a lottery," Banks said. "[I am] adamantly refusing to give in mentally though and whenever this has effed off I will be back.

"It's bitterly disappointing not to be there racing whilst sitting here turning to jelly but I'm absolutely loving seeing the team find its stride this past few weeks."

Banks missed most of the 2021 season after suffering a concussion in a crash during Strade Bianche.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.